Cas & Dylan (PG)
Directed by: Jason Priestley
Starring: Tatiana Maslany, Richard Dreyfuss and Jayne Eastwood
Running time: 90mins
“A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find that after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.” John Steinbeck
The concept of a road movie featuring a mis-matched duo who don’t get along, directed by Brandon from Beverly Hills 90210, sounds like a horrendous straight-to-TV movie. The reality is that this might just be this year’s Little Miss Sunshine. It is a surprisingly sweet movie, tinged with darkness and light in equal measure. The plot centres around Dr Cas Pepper (Dr Pepper!!!), who at the start of the film is diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour and decides, rather than spend his few remaining days in a hospital bed hooked up to machines, he is going to go out on his own terms. At the same time Dylan, played by Orphan Black star Tatiana Maslany, literally barges her way into the Doctor’s life and the unlikely duo begin their journey “out west” where, along the way, Dylan plans to help Cas with his suicide note.
The storyline is nothing new, however, what sets this apart is the two magnificent leads. Richard Dreyfuss delivers his best performance in decades, sidestepping what could have been a clichéd grumpy old man performance into a fully developed character that demands both sympathy and respect. Tatiana Maslany is practically incandescent, bringing Dylan to life with charisma and sadness that contradicts her front of being a fee spirit. Her obvious lies and exaggerations do not convey an irritating Zooey Deschanel level of kooky, but instead make the viewer pity the girl who is obviously inventing a life better than the one she currently occupies.
Jason Priestley seems a bizarre choice for someone who is known primarily as a teen heart throb and has only previously directed television episodes. However, he displays a wonderful eye for both characters and visuals. The scenery, as the duo take their cross country trip through the various landscapes of Canada, is as beautiful as anything a Planet Earth documentary could show. For a film that is primarily just two people in a car talking, he avoids any gimmicky shots and shows a confidence in his two leads to hold the audience’s attention. Priestley has shown hidden depth as an actor before in both Tombstone and the criminally underrated Love and Death on Long Island, which was sadly eclipsed by the similar Gods and Monsters. He is just as surprising as a director and one gets the feeling that his accomplishments behind the camera will soon outstrip his achievements in front of it.
The film is laced with wonderful moments of humour and heartbreaking moments of tenderness that never leaves the viewer feeling emotionally manipulated. It is rare that comedy-dramas deliver on both fronts but this one does wonderfully. The unlikely trio of Dreyfuss, Maslany and Priestley has delivered a beautiful film that will hopefully find a deserved audience and, if nothing else, should see a rise in the sale of orange VW Beatles. You may leave the cinema with a tear in your eye but you will have a smile on your face.
4 out of 5 Nerds